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Let Us Give Thanks

A dozen neighbors share their blessings. What are yours?

Thanksgiving is America’s feast. Like all our holidays, it’s a celebration created by immigrants, with each new culture learning the traditions and mixing in their own. Diverse as we are, Thanksgiving unites rather than divides us. We celebrate it, regardless of age, race, region, religion or heritage — even vegetarians, for whom the turkey gives thanks.
    It’s a nicely timed holiday, too, ending the growing season with a harvest feast and beginning the winter holidays, festivals of light each culture and religion celebrates in its own way.
    On this fourth Thursday of November, the hustle and bustle pauses (though the pause grows shorter, with stores opening for Christmas commerce before the feast is digested) to give us time to come together and give thanks for the year’s blessings.
    Like our feasts, our reasons for thanks are uniquely our own yet not so different. Here, a dozen Chesapeake Country neighbors step up to count their blessings
    –Sandra Olivetti Martin

Julia Bennett

Mother; 17; North Beach
    I am thankful for my four-month-old son, Carter. He has already made me a better person. He inspires me to become successful and do great things not only for him but also for myself. I wake up every morning knowing I have a purpose, and I love that. No matter how bad a mood I’m in, he makes me smile as soon as I look at him.
    I never imagined loving someone so much; he has helped me see life in a different way. This is my first holiday with him, which makes this Thanksgiving special.
    I’m thankful for my parents because they help me when I don’t know what to do. I’m a first-time parent, and they have raised four children, so they help me out and give me tips. They love to spend time with Carter, and that gives me a little bit of a break. Living with them is helping me get on my feet and start working on a future for me and my son.
    –Ashley Brotherton

Joe Brotherton

Beekeeper; 58; Odenton
    I’m grateful for my loving wife of 38 years. Heidi and I are a rarity; we met in high school and were married in our teens. We have a wonderful son who is married and has two children.
    I’m grateful that I have been able to take this beekeeping hobby of mine and turn it into a successful small business, with 20 hives at the Naval Academy Farm. I have been at the Anne Arundel County Farmers Market since 1998 and have many great customers for my honey and candles.
    I am also grateful that I’ve worked hard, which shaped a comfortable life for me and my family.
    –Leigh Glenn

Alex Lohman

Student; 17; Huntingtown
    I’m embarking on a life-changing opportunity. Since first grade, school has been hectic for me. But my life is taking a complete flip-flop, and I’m doing something that will be better for my future, allow me to see past age 18 and enable me to graduate. I’m enrolling at Freestate ChalleNGe Academy run by the National Guard at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a program that’s specifically for at-risk high school dropouts and a school for students whose lives are not on track. It’s completely voluntary, and I’m making this choice to better my life. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for.
    –Michelle Steel

David Lowe

Plastic surgeon; 62; Annapolis
    I’m thankful for life. I’m out all the time, biking, hiking, kite-surfing. When you lose someone you really love — my wife died at 60 of ALS — you realize how short life is. That experience taught me that each day, every single day, is a gift. Every day I do something I enjoy, and I try to do something that helps other people, too. As a plastic surgeon, I make people look and feel good.
    –Sandra Olivetti Martin

Clea Macurdy

Special ed aide, Belvedere Elementary School & volunteer, Partners in Care consignment store; 48; Arnold
    I am most grateful for 20 years of marriage to my husband John, a sales engineer for a software company. He is the funniest man. Our relationship is a model for our kids, Anna, who is in her first year of middle school, and my stepchildren Alex, 26, a writer and Emily, 28, a social worker. All three look out for the world around them day to day. Living through cancer treatment shortly after Anna was born taught me not to waste time. From art projects to hiking, I relish each moment.
    –Liz Hall


Pat ‘Irish’ Mahoney

Chesapeake Beach Town Council Vice President; 58; Chesapeake Beach
    Spiritually, I am thankful to Jesus Christ for all the strength and resolve he has given me. As a seven-year cancer survivor, I am thankful to be so healthy, for the prayers I receive from family and friends and the energy I have to support all other survivors.
    Locally, I am thankful for the continued privilege of being re-elected to serve Chesapeake Beach. I am thankful that the overwhelming majority of our citizens share the same vision I have: a small town with good schools, services and amenities. Thankful that they join my battle against further Bayfront high-rise development and annexation of land for high-density housing.
    Last, I am thankful for Judy, my lovely bride for these past 23 years, and my 19-year-old son Patrick.
    –Michelle Steel

Lauren Malecki

Nurse; 23; Pasadena
    I’m thankful that my fiancée Brian and I finished unpacking our new home just in time for Thanksgiving, and that we have a home we can call our own. Our dog Tank is coming, too.
    I’m glad home is now only a 30-minute ride from Johns Hopkins, where I work, rather than an hour and 30 minutes.
    I’m thankful that we actually get to spend Thanksgiving together this year. I’m a nurse, and he’s a cop, so we both have crazy schedules. We don’t get the luxury of a 9-to-5 lifestyle. This year we both managed to have off, and I’m thankful for that.
    I’m thankful for my new house, but I’m glad I can go home and spend this holiday with my family at the house where I grew up in Huntingtown. Nothing beat’s coming home to a place you spent your whole life.
    –Ashley Brotherton

Rich Nieman

Reliable Churchill liquor distributor & former restaurant owner; 34; Shady Side
    My family. My father’s family goes back six generations in Shady Side, where my great-grandfather was an oysterman and where my whole family on that side still lives. Knowing these roots makes me proud to look down to Joshua 12 and Jackson, five.
    My children mean the world to me, so I’m thankful to be able to have weekends to spend with them and nighttimes to do homework with them. Doing a normal 40-hour week? I never knew what that was when I owned Richie’s in Shady Side.
    Working for a large company, having the security of health insurance and benefits, that’s a huge peace of mind. So a good job is something to be thankful for. I’m very thankful for the people I’ve met that appreciated who I am and gave me the opportunity, like my big boss who was my sales rep when I first started in my restaurant. He’s the one who helped me get this job.
    –Sandra Olivetti Martin

Nia Olabesi

Jazz singer and artist; 50s; Solomons
    My family, my wonderful life and health, my beautiful daughter Imani and handsome son Kuumba, who are so awesome. My two brothers to whom I’m very close, my nieces and nephews and their families. Thankful and so grateful for my mom, who celebrated her 80th birthday this year, and for her health and happiness. Thankful for my extended family. Thankful for all the beautiful friendships in my life.
    Thankful to our president, his family, our U.S. military, all the soldiers who gave their lives for us here at home and to their families as well as those who carry the wounds of the wars. I thank God for the non-profit To Save Our Young and Adults, for which I sit on the board of directors. Thankful to God for the many gifts of love that I’m blessed with, making it possible for me to reach out and touch the lives of others through the arts and to those who offer me opportunity and their support.
    Thankful to be living in this time of change and transition in the world to try and make a difference. I could go on ...
    –Michelle Steel

Peter Smith

Newly appointed Anne Arundel County ­Councilman, District 1, U.S. Marine reservist & civilian resource manager, Fort Meade; 32; Severn
    One, I’m grateful for my health, for I’ve deployed many, many times, and I’ve had a bunch of friends who didn’t come back or they came back less than they were before.
    Second, I’m grateful for my family. I couldn’t hold this Council position without my wife taking care of our two kids, and she has a full-time job, and sometimes I feel guilty she has to put her stuff on the back burner because this is such a huge effort.
    I’m thankful I got appointed to the Council, too, because I like serving country and community. There were some hurdles I had to overcome in the 108 rounds of voting it took to get appointed by my fellow councilmen, but it’s a good cause, so I was willing to fight for it.
    –Sandra Olivetti Martin

Myung Song

Retired & student of English as a Second ­Language; 65; Millersville
    I thank God for making life good. My whole family has opportunities in America that we did not have in Korea. There’s good work here. I’m happy my children have good jobs and their families have everything. My sons were five and three when we moved. They got a good education, and now the oldest, who went to the U.S. Air Force Academy, owns a parcel store in Bel Air. My other son is a computer programmer. In Korea my husband worked for someone else, but here he owned a convenience store. Now I am thankful we are retired.
    –Jane Elkin

Nancy Jo Steetle

Life Coach; 71; Heritage Harbor, Annapolis
    Trash cheerfully picked up for me, by the family that has been doing this for our condo for over 20 years.
    Our Heritage Harbor trash man Kevin and his family (90-year-old aunt and 25-year-old son) make my life easier by picking up my trash and recycling. Because of them, I don’t have to leave my building and go out in the cold but have the luxury of just opening the door and putting it out in the hallway. When both shoulders were broken and I couldn’t get it to the door, they came inside the apartment and got it.
    More importantly, they do this work with infinite dignity and modesty.
    The 90-year-old aunt inspires me, as she hauls stuff to the truck, shattering limiting beliefs of age-appropriate behavior just by showing up and being herself.
    –Dotty Doherty